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Jurisdiction Under Brussels I Regulation 2 Cases

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JURISDICTION UNDER BRUSSELS REGULATION 2 Tort Shevill v Presse Alliance [1996] (ECJ) Issue was whether a defamatory statement made by D was 'harmful' for purposes of Article 5(3). Held:

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Whether something is a 'harmful event' is determined by national law (as chosen by conflict of law rules of courts seised). Thus where matter falls to be judged by English law, whether event is harmful is a question of English law. On facts, defamatory statements are presumed to be harmful in English law.
? Thus they constitute a tort under Article 5(3)

Place Where Harmful Event Occurred GJ Bier v Mines de Potasse D, French company, discharged harmful chemicals into Rhine river. C, nursery owner in Holland, used polluted water on his plants which suffered harm as a result. Question was where C could sue D under Article 5(3). Held:

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'Harmful event' as per Art 5(3) occurs either at: i) Place where damage occurs ii) Place of event giving rise to damage

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Thus C could sure D either in France (where pollution was put in river) or Holland (where harm to plants occurred). Zuid-Chemie BV [2010]
D, Belgian company, manufactured a component used in manufacture of fertiliser. C, Dutch company, bought some of this component from D. Component was defective, causing the end-product fertiliser created by C to be ruined. Issue was over 'place where the damage occurred' - in Belgium (where the defective component was created by D), or in Holland (where the damage to C's end-product occurred). Held:

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'Place in which damage occurred' means place in which initial damage results from normal use of product for purpose for which it was intended.
? as opposed to place in which defective product was manufactured. Thus place in which the damage occurred is place in which defective component caused the damage to C's fertiliser
? Thus damage occurred in Holland, when component was mixed with the other ingredients.
? And not in Belgium, where component was made and delivered to C.

Marinari v Lloyds Bank [1995]
D, an English bank, refused to return promissory notes that C, an Italian bank, had deposited in England. As result, C suffered economic loss in Italy. Held:

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'Harmful event' as per Article 5(3) occurred in England.
? i.e. D's failure to return the promissory notes. This despite fact that actual loss suffered by C was in Italy. Thus Italian courts do not have jurisdiction under Art 5(3).

Place of Event Giving Rise to Damage Domicrest v Swiss Bank [1999] (UK case) C, an English company, accused D, a bank, of tort of negligent misstatement. As result of D's misstatement as to creditworthiness of one of D's client, C released goods in Italy and Switzerland which were then not paid for by the client. This caused C harm via loss of money in its bank accounts in UK. Issue was where 'harmful event' occurred. Held:

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Place in which harmful event occurred is place in which misstatement was made.
? And not place in which misstatement was received. Form (i.e. email, telephone) by which statement is made to C is irrelevant
? As it is D's negligent words, and not C's receipt of them, which constitutes the 'harmful event'.
? Thus irrelevant whether misstatement made in writing or via instantaneous communication. Thus on facts:
? Harmful event occurred in Switzerland (issuing of negligent misstatement)
? Damage occurred in Switzerland (where goods were released by D)
- this despite fact that D heard and acted upon misstatement in UK, and suffered its economic loss in UK

Shevill v Presse Alliance [1996]

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Thus when suing for defamation, in each individual jurisdiction C could recover no more than the harm caused to his reputation in that jurisdiction.

Source Ltd v Rheinland [1998]
Facts arose under which C had claims both in tort and for breach of contract. Was found that English courts had no jurisdiction under BIR to hear claims for breach of contract; thus relevant issue was whether English courts could have jurisdiction to hear tort claims. Held:

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Where same facts give rise to both contractual and tortious liability, if UK has no jurisdiction to hear contractual claims it cannot hear the tortious claims.

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